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SB 0047 - Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act; revise prior school year requirement

Tracking Level: Passed
Sponsor: Steve Gooch (R)
Last Action: 7/1/2021 - Effective Date
Senate Committee: Education and Youth
House Committee: Education
Assigned To:
VouchersNext Bill

Staff Analysis of the Legislation

GSBA-CWO Header 

SUMMARY:  LC 49 0328  LC 49 0442S  LC SB47/CSFA  LC 49 0523S (SB 47/AP)

Although it has been forgotten over the years, the statute passed in 2007 creating the special needs voucher also included a public school transfer option.  A student with an individualized education plan (IEP) can transfer to another school within the district OR a school outside the district if it has space available and provides the services in the student's IEP.  SB 47 would extend this option to students with a 504 plan. Transportation is up to the parents. 

The bill also expands the private school voucher program to students with a 504 plan relating to one or more of the 21 conditions listed in the bill in lines 97-118.  The State Board of Education is authorized to add to the list. 

IEP and 504 are terms used in federal law.  Students with disabilities listed in the federal law have an IEP and are provided the services in the plan.  Because of their special needs they are funded at a higher rate in QBE than other students.  Some students need accommodations, or a 504 plan, for their learning environment but are in regular education classes. 504 plans are sometimes for a temporary condition. 

Eligible students must have spent the prior year attending a GA public school OR received preschool special education or related services except for the following groups: 

  • Students whose parent is active duty military stationed in GA within the previous year
  • Students adopted or placed in permanent guardianship from foster care within the previous year
  • Student who previously qualified for the voucher but dropped out of the program
  • Students who apply in 2021-2022 and were in a GA public school for at least one count during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year 

Notice of the voucher program must be given to the parents when they are determined to be eligible for 504 accommodations as well as those eligible for an IEP.

As with the special needs voucher, parents accepting the voucher waive their rights under IDEA and Section 504.

Funding is based on the total QBE earnings (with no local five mill deduction) and, if the student has an IEP, services specified in the IEP in place at the time of the most recent enrollment. 

The voucher is the lesser of that amount and tuition plus fees.  Fees include but are not limited to:

  • student assessment
  • uniforms
  • physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy
  • transportation provided by the participating school
  • meals
  • summer school programs
  • tutoring
  • other materials, services, or activities as authorized by DOE

The State Board must adopt rules to provide for verification that a student who qualifies under the 504 provision has met the eligibility requirements. Rules must also be adopted to administer the program regarding student eligibility, transparency, and awareness of the impact of the program including but not limited to:

  • an annual survey of participating parents' satisfaction with the program, private school, and their likelihood of recommending the program.  Results shall use only numerical measures and made public in the currently required annual report on the voucher program
  • DOE shall post on its website the basic unit cost for general instructional programs as a minimum estimate for scholarship amounts
  • DOE shall provide parents the actual scholarship amounts upon appropriation to DOE for disbursement
  • Within 30 days of receiving the actual voucher amount, the parent can request a review of the accuracy of the program weights used.  DOE must respond within 30 days. 

 

EFFECTIVE DATE:

July 1, 2021 


Bill Summary from the State Site - Click for the State Summary Page / Click for Current Full Text